A cruise ship steamed to the rescue after a sailboat got into trouble in a heavy swell in Cook Strait last night.
Three people were eventually winched off the stricken ketch in heavy seas by the crew of the Wellington based Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
The ketch reported engine failure and a loss of navigation systems at about 6.30pm, 30 kilometres of Marlborough's Clifford Bay.
The giant luxury cruise ship, Seven Seas Voyager, which can carry up to 1100 people, was asked to help, a Maritime New Zealand spokeswoman said.
It stood by while the authorities organised a rescue effort.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter was called in to fly over and assess the situation.
Its crew winched the three crew off the ketch at about 8pm.
The abandoned boat is drifting near the mouth of Cook Strait.
A navigation warning has been issued.
- The Dominion Post